Saturday, 7 June 2008

When Publishing Doesn't Work

I am a writer. I get paid to have opinions, to find out about things that interest me, and to tell stories. I dictate when I work, how much I work, and what work I do. I think I have the best job in the world.

When I first started writing I knew little about writing or publishing. Through hard work, the kind help of others, and an immense amount of good luck I learned the mechanics of it all.

Not everyone is so lucky.

A few years ago I read a story online* about a man who had fallen victim to a publishing scam. He borrowed money to pay for his publication, and found himself with boxes of books stacked up in his garage and no way to sell them. So he bought into one of his publisher’s special promotional packages, which claimed to guarantee high sales, bookshop placement and high earnings. He re-mortgaged his house to pay for this special promotional package. He also bought a further print-run of his book to ensure he could cover the sales which he was assured he would make. He then gave up his job to devote his time to selling his book. No sales came. He ran out of money. And now he was unemployed. He had to move home. So he paid what little money he had left to put those boxes of books into storage because he was certain that someone, somewhere, would buy them. They never did. And he never wrote anything again.

I don't want that to happen to anyone else. So here it is. My new blog, in which I will address all those sticky little myths about writing, and publishing, and I hope help a couple of readers in the process.

*This isn't the story that I read, but it's similar enough to link to: read Yog Sysop.


Marian Perera said...

Hi. I post on the AW forums and had to check out the tiny little blog. :)

The story about the man who gave up his job and his house... you wouldn't happen to have a link to it, would you? It's incredibly sad. I'm looking forward to reading more about publishing myths - and the fallout from them.

Jane Smith said...

Marian, hello! Good to see you here. I lost the link to that story long ago, but have added a link to another one which is similar, and comes from someone with a lot more clout than me (you might just recognise him if you're from AW). These stories are everywhere, I'm afraid.

Marian Perera said...

Thanks! I plan to have a post each month on writing scams on my blog, and I'll link to Uncle Jim's page. These days, though, some scammers are more subtle. They won't ask for a large sum upfront; they'll bleed people drop by drop instead, keeping their victims that much longer and flying successfully under the radar of many others. PublishAmerica is a great example of that.

Do you mind if I add a link to your site on my blog as well?

Jane Smith said...

Marian, do please add a link to your blog, that would be great. You've got some great posts there.

I'm glad to see a link to Crack of Death on your blog, too: while we can't take any of the credit for Atlanta Nights, the lovely Sharon Maas and I came up with the idea for that book during one of those intensely giggly conversations that we both pretend we're too professional to ever indulge in.